During the 2012 regular season, the Chicago Cubs managed to lock up one of their core pieces for the future when they signed Starlin Castro to a six-year contract extension. On Sunday night, the nailed down another piece of that core with an extension of his own.
The Cubs and first baseman Anthony Rizzo agreed to a seven-year contract extension, on a deal that could pan out to be extremely favorable for Chicago. There are multiple elements of this contract that make this look like an absolute steal by the front office combination of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
The first is obviously the money. The initial deal is for seven years and $41 million. Including escalators, as well as the two club options that the Cubs have after those first seven, the contract could be worth a grand total of $73 million. That money over the course of nine years looks pretty good on the payroll.
Then there's the matter of the years. This deal will carry Rizzo pretty much through his entire prime. He's 23 right now, and he'd be 32 by the time the contract reaches its end, assuming both option years are picked up by the Cubs. This also buys out four arbitration years and two years of free agency. All in all, it has the potential to run through the 2021 season, including the options. The deal does not come with any no-trade protection.
After a slow start this season, Rizzo has found his swing. He's worked his way up to a slash line of .288/.361/.554/.915, as well as the matter of the nine home runs that he's hit, almost twice as many as anyone else on the club. His combination of his bat and potential Gold Glove defense make him a future superstar for this team.
If that superstar potential ends up coming to fruition, this deal will become an absolute steal for the Chicago Cubs. He's a key piece of this rebuild taking place on the North Side, and should ultimately be one of the major factors in getting them out of this state of misery that the franchise currently finds itself in.
With Castro and Rizzo now locked up for the next several years, the front office will likely turn its attention to other players on the roster up for extensions. Obviously, the first name on that list is going to be Jeff Samardzija. Can the Cubs make it 3-for-3 in favorable long-term deals for their future stars? We'll see.